Rowan Atkinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Rowan Atkinson
CBE
Rowan Atkinson, 2011.jpg
Atkinson at the Johnny English Reborn Premiere in 2011.
Birth nameRowan Sebastian Atkinson
Born(1955-01-06) 6 January 1955 (age 59)[1][2]
Consett, County Durham, England
MediumStand up, television, film
GenresPhysical comedy, Satire, Black comedy
InfluencesPeter Sellers, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati[3]
InfluencedSteve Pemberton
David Walliams
Sacha Baron Cohen
Rik Mayall
Steve Punt
Henry Naylor
SpouseSunetra Sastry (m. 1990)
Children2
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
from the BBC programme Front Row Interviews, 8 January 2012.[4]

 
Jump to: navigation, search
Rowan Atkinson
CBE
Rowan Atkinson, 2011.jpg
Atkinson at the Johnny English Reborn Premiere in 2011.
Birth nameRowan Sebastian Atkinson
Born(1955-01-06) 6 January 1955 (age 59)[1][2]
Consett, County Durham, England
MediumStand up, television, film
GenresPhysical comedy, Satire, Black comedy
InfluencesPeter Sellers, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati[3]
InfluencedSteve Pemberton
David Walliams
Sacha Baron Cohen
Rik Mayall
Steve Punt
Henry Naylor
SpouseSunetra Sastry (m. 1990)
Children2
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
from the BBC programme Front Row Interviews, 8 January 2012.[4]

Rowan Sebastian Atkinson, CBE (born 6 January 1955) is an English actor, comedian, and screenwriter who is best known for his work on the sitcoms Mr. Bean and Blackadder. Atkinson first came to prominence in the sketch comedy show Not the Nine O'Clock News (1979–82), and via his participation in The Secret Policeman's Balls from 1979. His other work includes the sitcom The Thin Blue Line (1995–96).

He has been listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest actors in British comedy[5] and amongst the top 50 comedians ever, in a 2005 poll of fellow comedians.[6] He has also had cinematic success with his performances in the Mr. Bean movie adaptations Bean and Mr. Bean's Holiday and in Johnny English and its sequel Johnny English Reborn.

Early life and education[edit]

Atkinson, the youngest of four brothers, was born in Consett, County Durham, England.[7] His parents were Eric Atkinson, a farmer and company director, and Ella May (née Bainbridge), who married on 29 June 1945.[7] His three older brothers are Paul, who died as an infant; Rodney, a Eurosceptic economist who narrowly lost the United Kingdom Independence Party leadership election in 2000; and Rupert.[8][9] Atkinson was brought up Anglican,[10] and was educated at Durham Choristers School, St. Bees School, and Newcastle University, where he received a degree in Electrical Engineering.[11]

In 1975, he continued for the degree of M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering at The Queen's College, Oxford, the same college his father matriculated at in 1935,[12] and which made Atkinson an Honorary Fellow in 2006.[13] First winning national attention in the Oxford Revue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 1976,[11] he had already written and performed early sketches for shows in Oxford by the Etceteras – the revue group of the Experimental Theatre Club (ETC) and for the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS), meeting writer Richard Curtis[11] and composer Howard Goodall, with whom he would continue to collaborate during his career.

Career[edit]

Radio[edit]

Atkinson starred in a series of comedy shows for BBC Radio 3 in 1978 called The Atkinson People. It consisted of a series of satirical interviews with fictional great men, who were played by Atkinson himself. The series was written by Atkinson and Richard Curtis, and produced by Griff Rhys Jones.[14]

Television[edit]

Rowan Atkinson in 1997, promoting Bean

After university, Atkinson toured with Angus Deayton as his straight man in an act that was eventually filmed for a television show. After the success of the show, he did a one-off pilot for London Weekend Television in 1979 called Canned Laughter. Atkinson then went on to do Not the Nine O'Clock News for the BBC, produced by his friend John Lloyd. He featured in the show with Pamela Stephenson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith, and was one of the main sketch writers.

The success of Not the Nine O'Clock News led to him taking the lead role in the medieval sitcom The Black Adder (1983), which he also co-wrote with Richard Curtis. After a three-year gap, in part due to budgetary concerns, a second series was broadcast, this time written by Curtis and Ben Elton. Blackadder II (1986) followed the fortunes of one of the descendants of Atkinson's original character, this time in the Elizabethan era. The same pattern was repeated in the two more sequels Blackadder the Third (1987) (set in the Regency era), and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989) (set in World War I). The Blackadder series became one of the most successful of all BBC situation comedies, spawning television specials including Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988), Blackadder: The Cavalier Years (1988), and later "Blackadder: Back & Forth" (1999), which was set at the turn of the Millennium.

Atkinson's other creation, the hapless Mr. Bean, first appeared on New Year's Day in 1990 in a half-hour special for Thames Television. The character of Mr. Bean has been likened somewhat to a modern-day Buster Keaton.[15] During this time, Atkinson appeared at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal in 1987 and 1989. Several sequels to Mr. Bean appeared on television until 1995, and the character later appeared in a feature film. Bean (1997) was directed by Mel Smith, Atkinson's colleague in Not the Nine O'Clock News. A second film, Mr. Bean's Holiday, was released in 2007. In 1995 and 1996, Atkinson portrayed Inspector Raymond Fowler in The Thin Blue Line television sitcom written by Ben Elton, which takes place in a police station located in fictitious Gasforth.

Atkinson has fronted campaigns for Kronenbourg,[16] Fujifilm, and Give Blood. Atkinson appeared as a hapless and error-prone espionage agent named Richard Lathum in a long-running series of adverts for Barclaycard, on which character his title role in Johnny English and Johnny English Reborn was based. He also starred in a comedy spoof of Doctor Who as the Doctor, for a "Red Nose Day" benefit. Atkinson appeared as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car on Top Gear in July 2011, driving the Kia Cee'd around the track in 1:42.2, placing him at the top of the leaderboard until Matt LeBlanc later recorded a 1:42.1 lap time.

Atkinson appeared at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony as Mr. Bean in a comedy sketch during a performance of "Chariots of Fire", playing a repeated single note on synthesiser.[17] He then lapsed into a dream sequence in which he joined the runners from the film of the same name (about the 1924 Summer Olympics), beating them in their iconic run along West Sands at St. Andrews, by riding in a minicab and tripping the front runner.[18]

Retirement of Mr. Bean[edit]

In November 2012 it emerged that the character of Mr. Bean was to be retired. "The stuff that has been most commercially successful for me – basically quite physical, quite childish – I increasingly feel I'm going to do a lot less of," Atkinson told the Daily Telegraph's Review. "Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad. You've got to be careful."[19] He has also said that the role typecast him to a degree.[20]

Film[edit]

Atkinson's film career began with a supporting part in the 'unofficial' James Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983) and a leading role in Dead on Time (also 1983) with Nigel Hawthorne. He was in the 1988 Oscar-winning short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. He appeared in Mel Smith's directorial debut The Tall Guy (1989) and appeared alongside Anjelica Huston and Mai Zetterling in Roald Dahl's The Witches (1990). He played the part of Dexter Hayman in Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), a parody of Rambo III, starring Charlie Sheen.

Atkinson gained further recognition with his turn as a verbally bumbling vicar in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and featured in Disney's The Lion King (also 1994) as the voice of Zazu the Red-billed Hornbill. Atkinson continued to appear in supporting roles in comedies, including Rat Race (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), Love Actually (2003) and the crime comedy Keeping Mum (2005), which also starred Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Patrick Swayze.

In addition to his supporting roles, Atkinson has also had success as a leading man. His television character Mr. Bean debuted on the big screen with Bean (1997) to international success. A sequel, Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) also became an international success. He has also starred in the James Bond parody Johnny English (2003) and its sequel, Johnny English Reborn (2011).

Theatre[edit]

Rowan Atkinson did live on-stage skits – also appearing with members of Monty Python – in The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979) for the British section of Amnesty International.

The Sneeze and Other Stories, seven short Anton Chekhov plays, translated and adapted by Michael Frayn, were performed by Rowan Atkinson, Timothy West and Cheryl Campbell at the Aldwych Theatre, London in 1988 and early 1989.

On 28 November 2012 Rowan Atkinson reprised the role of Blackadder at the "We are Most Amused" comedy gala for the Prince's Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. He was joined by Tony Robinson as Baldrick. The sketch involved Blackadder as CEO of Melchett, Melchett and Darling bank facing an enquiry over the banking crisis.

In 2013, Atkinson took on the titular role in a 12-week production (directed by Richard Eyre) of the Simon Gray play Quartermaine's Terms at Wyndham's Theatre in London.

At the end of 2013, he revived his schoolmaster sketch for Royal Free Hospital's Rocks with Laughter at the Adelphi Theatre. A few days prior, he performed a selection of sketches in a small coffee venue in front of only 30 people.[21]

Comic style[edit]

Best known for his use of physical comedy in his Mr. Bean persona, Atkinson's other characters rely more heavily on language. Atkinson often plays authority figures (especially priests or vicars) speaking absurd lines with a completely deadpan delivery.

One of his better-known comic devices is over-articulation of the "B" sound, such as his pronunciation of "Bob" in the Blackadder II episode "Bells". Atkinson suffers from a stammer,[22] and the over-articulation is a technique to overcome problematic consonants.

Atkinson's often visually based style, which has been compared to that of Buster Keaton,[15] sets him apart from most modern television and film comics, who rely heavily on dialogue, as well as stand-up comedy which is mostly based on monologues. This talent for visual comedy has led to Atkinson being called "the man with the rubber face": comedic reference was made to this in an episode of Blackadder the Third ("Sense and Senility"), in which Baldrick (Tony Robinson) refers to his master, Mr. E. Blackadder, as a "lazy, big-nosed, rubber-faced bastard".

Personal life[edit]

Rowan Atkinson at the Mr. Bean's Holiday premiere at Leicester Square in London (2007)

Marriage and children[edit]

Rowan Atkinson is married to Sunetra Sastry.[23] The couple first met in the late 1980s, when she was working as a make-up artist with the BBC.[24] They have two children, Ben and Lily. Atkinson was formerly in a relationship with actress Leslie Ash.[25]

Politics[edit]

In June 2005, Atkinson led a coalition of the UK's most prominent actors and writers, including Nicholas Hytner, Stephen Fry, and Ian McEwan, to the British Parliament in an attempt to force a review of the controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which they felt would give overwhelming power to religious groups to impose censorship on the arts.[26] In 2009, he criticized homophobic speech legislation, saying that the House of Lords must vote against a government attempt to remove a free speech clause in an anti-gay hate law.[27]

In 2012, he voiced his support for the Reform Section 5 campaign,[28] which aims to reform or repeal Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, particularly its statement that an insult can be grounds for arrest and punishment. It is a reaction to several recent high-profile arrests, which Atkinson sees as a restriction of freedom of expression.[29]

Cars[edit]

With an estimated wealth of approximately £85 million, Atkinson is able to indulge his passion for cars that began with driving his mother's Morris Minor around the family farm. He has written for the British magazines Car, Octane, Evo, and "SuperClassics", a short-lived UK magazine, in which he reviewed the McLaren F1 in 1995.

Atkinson holds a category C+E (formerly 'Class 1') lorry driving licence, gained in 1981, because lorries held a fascination for him, and to ensure employment as a young actor. He has also used this skill when filming comedy material. In 1991, he starred in the self-penned The Driven Man, a series of sketches featuring Atkinson driving around London trying to solve his obsession with cars, and discussing it with taxi drivers, policemen, used-car salesmen and psychotherapists.[30] A lover of and participant in car racing, he appeared as racing driver Henry Birkin in the television play Full Throttle in 1995.

Atkinson has raced in other cars, including a Renault 5 GT Turbo for two seasons for its one make series. He owns a McLaren F1, which was involved in an accident in Cabus, near Garstang, Lancashire with an Austin Metro in October 1999.[31] It was damaged again in a serious crash in August 2011 when it caught fire after Atkinson reportedly lost control and hit a tree.[32][33] He has previously owned a Honda NSX. Other cars he owns include an Audi A8,[citation needed] and a Honda Civic Hybrid.[34]

The Conservative Party politician Alan Clark, himself a devotee of classic motor cars, recorded in his published Diaries a chance meeting with a man he later realised was Atkinson while driving through Oxfordshire in May 1984: "Just after leaving the motorway at Thame I noticed a dark red DBS V8 Aston Martin on the slip road with the bonnet up, a man unhappily bending over it. I told Jane to pull in and walked back. A DV8 in trouble is always good for a gloat." Clark writes that he gave Atkinson a lift in his Rolls-Royce to the nearest telephone box, but was disappointed in his bland reaction to being recognised, noting that: "he didn't sparkle, was rather disappointing and chétif."[35]

One car Atkinson has said he will not own is a Porsche: "I have a problem with Porsches. They're wonderful cars, but I know I could never live with one. Somehow, the typical Porsche people – and I wish them no ill – are not, I feel, my kind of people. I don't go around saying that Porsches are a pile of dung, but I do know that psychologically I couldn't handle owning one."[36][37]

He appeared in episode 4, series 17 of Top Gear in the "Star in a reasonably priced car" section, where he drove the Kia Cee'd on the test track in 1:42.2, taking first place on the board, but was later beaten by Matt LeBlanc during the second episode of the eighteenth series, with a lap time of 1:42.1.

Kenyan holiday[edit]

While on a holiday trip to Kenya in 2001, the pilot of his private plane fainted. Atkinson managed to maintain the plane in the air for several minutes until the pilot recovered and was able to regain control.[38]

Honours[edit]

Atkinson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity.[39][40]

Television appearances[edit]

Television advertisements[edit]

YearTitleRole
1983AppletiseFisherman
1989Give BloodDoctor
1991-97BarclaycardRichard Lathum
1994REMA 1000Mr. Bean
1997M&M'sMr. Bean
1999FujifilmMr. Bean
1999Nissan TinoMr. Bean
1999Pink PantherMr. Bean
1999Kronenbourg 1664Customs officer

Filmography[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1982Fundamental FrolicsHimself
The Secret Policeman's Other BallHimself & various roles
1983Dead on TimeBernard Fripp
Never Say Never AgainNigel Small-FawcettA spy film based on the James Bond original screenplay Thunderball
1989The Appointments of Dennis JenningsDr. SchoonerShort Film
The Tall GuyRon Anderson
1990The WitchesMr. Stringer
1991The Driven ManHimselfTV
Also Writer
1992Laughing MattersPresenterDocumentary
1993Hot Shots! Part DeuxDexter Hayman
1994Four Weddings and a FuneralFather Gerald
The Lion KingZazuVoice Only
1997BeanMr. BeanAlso Writer/Executive Producer
2000Maybe BabyMr. James
2001Rat RaceEnrico Pollini
2002Scooby-DooEmile Mondavarious
2003Johnny EnglishJohnny EnglishNominated - European Film Award for Best Actor
Love ActuallyRufusNominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Acting
2005Keeping MumReverend Walter Goodfellow
2007Mr. Bean's HolidayMr. BeanAlso Writer & Producer
2011Johnny English RebornJohnny EnglishAlso Executive Producer

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rowan Atkinson: Biography". MSN. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Rowan Atkinson: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Blackadder Hall Blog » Blog Archive » Rowan Interview – no more Bean... or Blackadder". Blackadderhall.com. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rowan Atkinson". Front Row Interviews. 8 January 2012. BBC Radio 4 Extra. http://bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018zvm9. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  5. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part one)", The Observer, 7 December 2003. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  6. ^ "Cook voted 'comedians' comedian'". BBC News. 2 January 2005. 
  7. ^ a b Barratt, Nick (25 August 2007). "Family Detective – Rowan Atkinson". The Daily Telegraph (UK). 
  8. ^ Foreign Correspondent – 22 July 1997: Interview with Rodney Atkinson, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  9. ^ Profile: UK Independence Party, BBC News, 28 July 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  10. ^ Mann, Virginia (28 February 1992). "For Rowan Atkinson, comedy can be frightening". The Record. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c "BBC – Comedy Guide – Rowan Atkinson". BBC. 4 December 2004. Archived from the original on 4 December 2004. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  12. ^ "page 6: "The donation was given in memory of Rowan Atkinson's father, Eric Atkinson, who matriculated at Queens in 1935."" (PDF). Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "queens iss 1" (PDF). Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Pick of the Day", The Guardian, 31 January 2007.
  15. ^ a b "Museum.tv". Museum.tv. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  16. ^ mhm grax. "Kronenbourg Commercial". Mhmgrax.com. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  17. ^ "Mr. Bean’s Hilarious ‘Chariots Of Fire’ Skit At Olympics". hollywoodlife.com. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "Mr Bean's Olympic orchestral appearance". BBC News. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Victoria Ward "Rowan Atkinson suggests end is in sight for Mr Bean", telegraph.co.uk, 17 November 2012
  20. ^ Dominic Cavendish "Rowan Atkinson: Goodbye, Mr Bean?", telegraph.co.uk, 21 November 2012
  21. ^ http://www.theindychannel.com/entertainment/rowan-atkinson-plays-surprise-comedy-show-in-london_26375720
  22. ^ "10 Questions for Rowan Atkinson". Time. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  23. ^ "Rowan Atkinson: Mr Bean star known for satire and love of fast cars - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Profile: Beany Wonder, 10 June 2007, The Hindu
  25. ^ Adams, Guy (24 March 2007). "Rowan Atkinson: Comic engima". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  26. ^ Freeman, Simon (20 June 2005). "Rowan Atkinson leads crusade against religious hatred Bill". The Times (UK). Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  27. ^ Geen, Jessica. "Rowan Atkinson attacks gay hate law". Pink News. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  28. ^ "Rowan Atkinson: we must be allowed to insult each other". The Daily Telegraph. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "Rowan Atkinson's address to the Reform Section 5 parliamentary reception". reformsection5.org.uk. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  30. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 February 2005). "Rowan Atkinson: The Driven Man – Trailer – Cast – Showtimes". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ "Mr Bean crashes sports car". BBC News. 27 October 1999. 
  32. ^ Dunning, Craig (5 August 2011). "Mr Bean and Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson in hospital after McLaren F1 supercar crash". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  33. ^ "Update: TV star Rowan Atkinson in hospital following Cambridgeshire crash". Evening Star. 
  34. ^ Wormald, Andrew (31 May 2011). "Stars & their Cars:Rowan Atkinson – Celebrity Fun | MSN Cars UK". Cars.uk.msn.com. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  35. ^ Alan Clark Diaries (Phoenix, 1993) p. 80
  36. ^ Wormald, Andrew; Benjamin Atkinson (6 October 2005). "Stars & their Cars:Rowan Atkinson". MSN. p. 1. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  37. ^ "Museum.tv". Museum.tv. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  38. ^ "Mr Bean flies plane after pilot faints". The Telegraph. 24 March 2001. 
  39. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60534. p. 7. 15 June 2013.
  40. ^ "Birthday Honours: Adele joins Blackadder stars on list". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 

External links[edit]